>> Once at the risk of extinction, Portugal's cork industry is coming back from the brink. Producers were nearly put out of business by plastic stoppers and screw tops, and wine makers complaining that corks were tainting flavors. Reuter's Andre Cullen explains.>> It's basically chemical called TCA which is responsible for that wet cardboard taste and smell in wine, which pretty much ruins the wine.
And that, in the early 2000s, where the cork industry says there was a real crisis, and with a cork taint that used to affect up to 15% of all wine.>> Rather than accept defeat, the sector fought back. It poured 700 million euros into new technology research and equipment, and created a cheaper stopper made from shredded cork, that prevents wine from being tainted.
>> Corticeira Amorim is the world's largest producer.>> Very few people thought that Corticeira Amorim could deliver on all those aspects, but we did. And the end result of that, five consecutive years of record breaking results.>> Amorim share price up six fold since the reinvented cork came on the market.
It's sales now up to around 1.3 billion dollars a year, and Portugal as a whole dominating global trade in cork.>> It has 30% of the cork tree forest, it accounts for 50% of cork production per se, and an impressive 63% of all cork exports. Experts say the global cork industry still has a fight on its hands with cheap alternatives.
But in Portugal where exports of the stoppers are back to their peak hit of 15 years ago, many are popping a cork or two to mark the rebirth of their industry.